Officers Union Defneds Cops Who Shot, Killed Man Last Week

The San Francisco police officers union issued a statement Tuesday defending five unnamed officers who shot and killed an allegedly armed man in the city’s Bayview District last week.

Citizens and “organizations hostile to the police” are jumping to conclusions based on short videos posted online showing the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Mario Woods last Wednesday afternoon, San Francisco Police Officers Association President Martin Halloran said. Halloran echoed Mayor Ed Lee and Chief Greg Suhr’s call for officers to be equipped with Tasers, an idea that has failed several times amid public controversy over the safety of the devices.

Woods was fatally shot by police while wielding a knife on Third Street near Fitzgerald Avenue, near a T-Third Street San Francisco Municipal Railway stop. The videos show the man identified as Woods against a building, surrounded on two sides by officers with their guns drawn. He motions toward
the officers, staggers, and then tries to walk away along the building, as one of the officers moves into his path.

A moment later, numerous shots are heard, and Woods falls to the ground as the gunshots continue. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have said he was carrying a knife as he moved toward one of the officers. Officers deployed a less-lethal “bean bag” round, forcing him to drop to one knee, but it did not incapacitate him. Bystanders can be heard on the video telling him to “just drop

Police said Woods was a suspect in an earlier stabbing, of a victim who arrived at San Francisco General Hospital at 3:49 p.m. and said he had been stabbed near the corner of Third Street and Le Conte Avenue, not far from where Woods was shot. An officer spotted him in the area about 40 minutes later, prompting the confrontation.

A protest was held there the following night followed by a heated community meeting with Suhr on Friday. Angry residents called for Suhr’s resignation over the shooting, which follows several San Francisco police scandals including text messages between officers containing racial epithets disclosed during a federal criminal case over police misconduct.But Halloran Tuesday defended the officers’ actions as justified
and legal.

“The felonious subject had already stabbed one innocent stranger before he was located by officers called to the scene,” Halloran wrote. “Countless lawful commands were given to this subject to drop the 8-inch knife. Non-lethal force was used numerous times, including pepper spray along with the deployment of bean bags.”

“With innocent bystanders nearby and the erratic behavior of the subject, the threat to life was imminent. With no other options available, the officers were forced to discharge their firearms,” Halloran said.

He said that according to federal court rulings the officers did not even need to exhaust every alternative before they could legally resort to deadly force, but that it appears the officers did anyway. But he also joined Suhr in arguing the officers should have more options available to them, in particular Tasers. The police officers association has been advocating in favor of Tasers for years, Halloran said, but equipping San Francisco police with the devices has repeatedly been rejected by the police commission due to public concern over their safety.

The commission is expected to take up the issue again on Wednesday after Lee and Suhr’s renewed call. Suhr also said he is equipping department officers with 60 protective shields — 10 for each of the department’s six districts — and is looking toward increasing training for officers in de-escalation tactics, joining the national program Re-Engineering Training on Police Use of Force.

(News by Bay City News)